Thursday, 2 November 2017

Sport and Physical Activity is Life Changing - ukactive 2017 Summit Review

The ukactive National Summit 2017 : Inspirational on so many levels.

The ukactive summit at the QE2 conference centre on 1 November 2017 was a fantastic event attended by a capacity crowd of 700 delegates from over 300 organisations. The speaker line-up was impressive, with ukactive stalwarts Steven Ward and Tanni Grey-Thompson; Lords, MPs and politicians in Andrew Lansley, Tracey Crouch, Penny Mordaunt and Phillip Lee; athletes like Laurence Dallaglio, Darren Campbell, and John McAvoy, and several more knights of the realm.

There was a big push to use the ukactive event app to increase the networking inside and sharing outside the event (even Lord Lansley encouraged the use of #NationalSummit), but this was complemented by an excellent delegate notebook with a printed agenda and lots of space for notetaking.

Steve Ward opened proceedings with his usual rousing address, focusing on the 5 million people (and ¾ million kids) who took part in National Fitness Day. Evidence like this is key to ukactive’s ongoing success, fuelling the health and happiness of the UK. Steven talked about ukactive being more disruptive, questioning the status quo, and fighting the battle against inactivity, which he called the asbestos of the modern age.

Tracey Crouch talked about the sports strategy Sporting Future, with its 5 threads looking at the Physical, Mental, Individual, Social and Economic aspects of how physical activity transforms lives and strengthens communities and the economy. You can read a transcript of Tracey’s speech here.

Tanni Grey-Thompson was at her most inspirational and passionate as she described physical activity as the golden thread that runs through society. Tanni talked about values in the family, home, and community, and how politics has lost sight of the health and happiness that ties all these together. Physical activity is today’s religion to many, something we turn to weekly, and leisure centres are pillars of community, although some are being allowed to crumble. If you want more detail from Tanni’s speech, please click here – it’s well worth a couple of minutes of your time.

Later, we enjoyed two knights; Laurence Dallaglio and Prof Greg Whyte, talking initially about sport, motivation, and then how RugbyWorks gets teenagers outside the mainstream into education, employment or training. This set-up a key theme that Tanni and Tracey had alluded to – the power of physical activity in giving kids something to do, particularly if they have been excluded, bringing focus, and delivering social and economic solutions in reducing crime, or helping with rehabilitation.

The story of rehabilitation was the highlight and most inspirational session of all. Dr Philip Lee MP talked about the role of physical activity in the criminal justice system. 69% of young offenders re-offend, but Saracens “GetOnside” programme sees a re-offend rate of just 8%. He then introduced John McAvoy, who told his incredibly moving, often shocking, occasionally funny story from Iron Bars to Iron Man.

John’s key message: Sport and Physical Activity is Life Changing.

John’s plea: Help to bring Physical Activity to the criminal justice system or those at risk of offending.

You can take a quick look at John’s video that was shown on bus stops all round London below:

Finally, there was a really good balance of providers to suppliers at the summit. I’ve felt that there have been more suppliers in previous years, but it was good to catch-up with clients and meet new providers of physical activity solutions that are not just traditional clubs.

All in all, it was a very inspirational day. After all the tweets and updates, I now only need type “in” for my phone to auto-suggest “inspirational”. Thanks to all the organisers and speakers. We look forward to next year's summit on 12th September 2018, and all the other ukactive events in the meantime.

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